Martin Neary

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Martin Neary

Alma materCambridge University
Occupation(s)Organist and choral conductor

Martin Gerard James Neary LVO is an English organist and choral conductor.

Neary was born in London, and read theology and music at Cambridge University.[1] He was Organist and Director of Music at Winchester Cathedral from 1972 to 1988, and Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey from 1988 to 1998.[2] In 1984 he was Artist-in-Residence at the University of California at Davis.[3]

The years at Winchester were especially innovative. In addition to extending the traditional choral repertoire, Dr Neary commissioned new works from Jonathan Harvey and, in particular, John Tavener.

Overseas tours were made with the Cathedral choir, and in addition to his own organ recitals at the Cathedral he drew distinguished organists from across the world to play there, memorably including Daniel Chorzempa, Daniel Hathaway and Marilyn Keiser from USA, Raymond Daveluy from Montreal, Peter Planyavsky from Vienna and (among others) from the UK, Ralph Downes. With his assistant organists James Lancelot and Timothy Byram-Wigfield he was responsible for planning of the major rebuilding and enlargement of the Cathedral organ by Harrison and Harrison in 1986–88.

As the organist at Westminster Abbey, he was the musical director of the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, for which he was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in the New Year Honours List in 1998.[4] Neary's promotion of the music of John Tavener, the latter's "Song for Athene" was performed by the choir of the Abbey as the coffin was borne out by the pallbearers.[5]

On 22 April 1998, Wesley Carr, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, dismissed Neary from his position at Westminster Abbey on the grounds of gross misconduct regarding the finances of a company that he and his wife had set up to administer fees from concerts at the Abbey.[6]

Neary petitioned Queen Elizabeth II, as Visitor of the Abbey, to resolve the dispute. The Queen appointed Charles Jauncey, Baron Jauncey of Tullichettle, to be her Commissioner. Lord Jauncey determined that the summary dismissal was justified. The report also stated that Neary's well recognised musical abilities, and the hard work which he and his wife had done on behalf of the Abbey and the choir, were not in question.[7]

His daughter, Alice Neary, cellist, won the 1998 Pierre Fournier Award at the Wigmore Hall.


  1. ^ Martin Neary Directs, Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys, Inc Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Cathedral Music Links website Archived 2009-12-19 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Appointments - Martin Neary" (PDF). The Diapason. 75 (4): 10. April 1984.
  4. ^ London Gazette Issue 54993, 30 Dec 1997
  5. ^ Order of Service for the Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, [1]
  6. ^ The Independent, Dean censured for callous sacking, Thursday 10 December 1998 (retrieved 18 March 2013)
  7. ^ ‘Determination Of Lord Jauncey Of Tullichettle Acting as a Special Commissioner Appointed by Her Majesty The Queen as Visitor to Westminster Abbey and as Arbitrator’, 9 Dec 1998 [2]
Cultural offices
Preceded by Organist and Master of the Music Winchester Cathedral
Succeeded by
Preceded by Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey
Succeeded by